What is a trade mark?
A trade mark (TM) is a sign that a business uses to mark their products and services. This way, their customers can easily identify and distinguish them from the goods and services of other traders. Trade marks are not limited to just being a name or logo; a trade mark can be a letter, number, phrase, sound, smell, colour, shape, image and/or design of packaging. Examples of trade marks are McDonald’s iconic golden arches in the ‘M’ shape, and Cadbury using a specific shade of purple for their chocolate packaging.
Do I need to register a trade mark?
Your trade mark is your business identity and an important aspect of your marketing. Using and protecting your trade mark helps your customers find your products and services, and avoids confusion in the marketplace. The more successful your business is, the more valuable your trade mark will become.
A way to legally protect your trade mark is by registering it with the national trade mark office. With a registered trade mark in place, you are entitled to use the official registered trade mark symbol ® which warns your competitors that your branding is protected and must not be copied without your consent.
You are not legally required to register your trade mark, but without registration, enforcing your rights can be very challenging, costly and risky. A Certificate of Registration also provides easy proof that you are the owner of your trade mark.
Protecting your trade mark
The process of registering your trade mark consists of 5 stages; filing, examination, acceptance, publication and registration. You can find more information on these stages here.
As a trade mark owner, it is your responsibility to monitor the market for any potential infringements of your trade mark. If you would like to register your trade mark in Australia or any other jurisdiction, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.
Want to know more about trade marks?
Learn more about trade marks by reading our recent blog articles:
- What is genericide, and how to prevent it – if over time, a trade mark becomes so commonly used by the general public that it is associated with the goods and services sold, it loses its distinctiveness and in turn becomes descriptive, such as Hoover, Velcro and Jacuzzi.
- Testarossa, and how Ferrari lost its most famous car through non-use – due to non-use of the Testarossa trade mark, Ferrari lost the right to use the brand.
- Hashtag trade marks #ProtectYourIP – hashtags have the ability to increase a brand’s popularity, and draw customer’s attention – it’s even possible to trade mark a hashtag.
- Was the inventor of the fidget spinner robbed? – Catherine Hettinger invented the fidget spinner in 1993, but in 2005 she let her trade mark lapse. Hasbro subsequently took over the trade mark, and begun profiting from fidget spinners, by selling thousands week.